Enough with the attendance shaming

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This morning’s Chipper Jones post, in which he called out Braves fans for not showing up and/or not being loud, has brought out the usual comments we see whenever attendance comes up. “Braves fans suck!” is a pretty well-worn trope around these parts. As are the more nuanced comments which attempt to equate a team’s worthiness and quality with the fervor of its fan base.

I always scratched my head at these things. I mean, I know the Braves don’t draw people. I know that some teams always draw people. I wish my team had a rockin’ stadium every night, but it never has, likely never will and, given the Braves success over the past 20 years, it doesn’t really matter. It certainly doesn’t affect my affection for the team, so why does anyone else care?

Cee Angi of The Platoon Advantage wrote about this a couple of weeks ago. She called the phenomenon “Attendance Shaming,” and like me wonders why in the hell it’s even a thing.  After analyzing what we’re really talking about when we talk about poor attendance, using the White Sox as an example, she concludes thusly:

In the end, there’s no accounting for taste, and you can’t blame the consumer for not liking the product as much as you think they should, for whatever reason. But again, unless you’re Jerry Reindorf’s wallet (which Forbes says is flush with cash), why should we care anyway? The focus of fans should remain on Win-Loss records, not attendance records. Spinning turnstyles is not a civic duty, particularly not in a time of economic distress. Whether he does so or not is between him, his God, and Jerry Reinsdorf.

But hey, if it makes you feel better that your team draws well — if you think being “a better fan” makes you a better person — by all means, continue to care about such things.  Just, please, explain to me why in the hell it should matter to anyone else?

Oh, and finally: if you still insist on pointing to attendance as a signifier of your worth, at least use a better number than total butts in seats. Use attendance relative to stadium capacity, which Carson Cistulli looks at over at FanGraphs today.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.